Last updated 1:49PM ET
December 14, 2017
KSUT Regional
KSUT Regional
San Juan Forest Analysis Includes Fees and Closings
(2008-05-15)
(ksut) - HOST LEAD: Release of a long awaited study is sparking debate over whether you may have to pay to play in some parts of the San Juan National Forest.
KSUT's Victor Locke reports.

VICTOR: It's been three years in the making, was once called the Recreation Sites Facility Master Plan, and is called the Recreational Facility Analysis for the San Juan National Forest.
All 155 National Forests nationwide must complete one of the five year plans or they could lose out on maintenance funding from the federal government.
The San Juan Forest plan was just released this week.
The public has until June 16th to comment on the plan.
It's authored by David Baker, the San Juan Public Lands Center Recreation Lead.
BAKER: IT'S AN ANALYSIS OF WHAT THE CURRENT RECREATION FACILITIES ARE AND HOW WE WANT TO MANAGE THEM. WHAT WE'RE TRYING TO DO IS FIND THE SUSTAINABLE PROGRAM FOR OUR RECREATIONAL FACILITIES, HOW MANY TRAILHEADS, DO THEY MATCH, WHAT WE'RE TRYING TO PRESENT TO THE PUBLIC FOR QUALITY RECREATION ON THE SAN JUANS AND MAKE SOME MINOR REALIGNMENTS IF WE NEED TO.
Realignments translate into closing some facilities, repairing or upgrading others, and implementing or increasing fees on some.
In a nutshell, the San Juan plan calls for closing five facilities including the Wolf Creek, Lewis Creek and Olga Little campgrounds, along with the East Lime Creek and Metaska picnic sites.
It calls for electrifying campsites at Haviland and Vallecito Campgrounds, with associated fees for there and elsewhere.
One of the most vocal critics of the national forest planning process has been Kitty Benzar, President of the Durango based Western Slope No Fee Coalition.
Her group has numerous issues with the process.
She charges the public has been shut out of the process to this point, and the San Juan Forest plan contains some hidden features that will prove unpopular.
BENZAR: THE AVERAGE PERSON JUST READING THEIR PRESS RELEASE WOULD NOT UNDERSTAND THAT THIS PLAN HAS SEVEN NEW FEES INVOLVED ON THE SAN JUAN NATIONAL FOREST, SUCH AS THE LOWER HERMOSA TRAILHEAD, SUCH AS LITTLE MOLAS LAKE, SUCH AS THE DISPERSED CAMPING AREAS AT SOUTH MINERAL CREEK, AND AT LA PLATA CITY AND MINERS CABIN. THERE ARE SEVERAL DISPERSED CAMPING AREAS THAT ARE GOING TO SEE A FEE THAT HAVE VIRTUALLY NO FACILITIES. AND THERE'S ALSO GOING TO BE INCREASED FEES AT CHRIS PARK CAMPGROUND.
Baker says any fees charged will be related to facilities with improvements, and no one will be charged to simply access national forest lands for such things as hiking.
He does acknowledge a fee is proposed for tour buses that use the Molas Pass rest stop and overlook, what Benzar refers to as a Pay to Pee fee.
As to criticisms about a lack of public input, he says this is just an analysis.
Public input comes as changes are implemented.
BAKER: IF WE MAKE CHANGES ON THE GROUND WE GO THROUGH ANOTHER PROCESS THAT'S OPEN TO THE PUBLIC. WE DO ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENTS, EVEN IF WE TAKE A TOILET OUT, WE HAVE TO DO AN ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT.
Benzar says that hasn't been so in some of the 90 or so National Forests where these studies have been completed.
BENZAR: BUT ONLY 47 OF THEM TO DATE HAVE BEEN RELEASED FOR THE PUBLIC TO LOOK AT EVEN THOUGH SOME OF THEM ARE BEING IMPLEMENTED. THERE'S BEEN A HUGE VARIATION IN PUBLIC PARTICIPATION. SOME FORESTS HAVE A LOT OF MEETINGS, GIVE A LONG TIME FOR INPUT, MODIFY THEIR PLANS BASED ON PUBLIC INPUT. OTHER FORESTS PUT OUT NOT PRESS RELEASE AT ALL, DON'T EVEN RELEASE THEIR PLAN TO THE PUBLIC AND JUST PROCEED TO IMPLEMENT, SO IT SPANS THAT ENTIRE SPECTRUM FROM NO PUBLIC PARITICPATION TO A LOT OF PUBLIC PARTICIPATION. SAN JUAN NATIONAL FOREST IS SOMEWHERE IN THE MIDDLE THERE.
Again, the deadline to comment on the San Juan National Forest Recreational Facility Analysis is June 16th.
A link to view the complete analysis as well as instructions on how to submit comments can be found by clicking on this story under regional news at ksut.org.
From KSUT, Four Corners Public Radio, I'm Victor Locke.

The analysis may be viewed online at www.fs.fed.us/r2/sanjuan/recreation/facility

Comments may be submitted by Monday, June 16, 2008 via mail to David Baker, San Juan Public Lands Center, 15 Burnett Court, Durango 81301, email to djbaker@fs.fed.us or fax at 970 375-2331.
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